Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If you can find any difference between "unproductive" and "nonproductive," could you explain that with some illustrative sentences?

share|improve this question
AFIAK, No, there is no difference. –  John Mar 15 '11 at 1:02
@John, there is a very slight difference in connotation/usage, but I'll be damned if I can articulate it. –  Marthaª Mar 15 '11 at 1:07
@Martha: I did have that nagging feeling... perhaps 'unproductive' not only means not producing, but actually destroying, where 'nonproductive' means not doing either? –  John Mar 15 '11 at 1:09
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Being unproductive implies that something could have been productive but no action was taken. Nonproductive implies that something was unsuccessfully trying to be productive.

John was unproductive and sat around all day watching movies.

John spent three nonproductive hours trying to write a novel.

share|improve this answer
I believe this answer is more accurate and articulated than mine. Use this one. –  HaL Mar 16 '11 at 14:15
Thank you very much, MrHen and HaL. Your answers are very useful:) –  SKUSANO Mar 16 '11 at 22:51
add comment

There is a difference. Unproductive suggests something that could be useful produces nothing of value. Nonproductive suggests that same something produces nothing useful at all.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.